Ugandan makes affordable prosthetic limbs for amputees

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Alan Sserugo lost his leg in an accident a few years ago. He is here today to see Julius Gabula, a trained orthopedic technician.

Gabula wants to see more Ugandan amputees using prosthetics to enable them lead a quality life.

He decided to rent space at a garage in the city where he uses recycled plastics and other materials to make affordable versions of prosthetics.

“While working on them (clients), it is not a must that you have to fit them that they should go back to the way they were living before but we restore them, we rehabilitate them to the extent that they are able to move in a similar way they were moving, however, it is not possible to go back to what God made at first,” Gabula said.

A prosthetic client, Alan Sserugo said there are many challenges as some people tend to bypass people with crutches in public places.

“Storied buildings, markets places because you know as an amputee you have to move in a flat surface area where you do not have to get problems from — and public facilities like toilets you can’t access them because when you find that it is not a sitting toilet you can’t use it, there are a lot of challenges which are out there. Public transport where if you as an amputee,” he added.

The workshop produces mobility devices used for both hands and legs.

The products cost between 200 to 1,300 US dollars. Similar ones made by established manufacturers go for about double the price in orthopedic outlets in the city.

According to the country’s ministry of health, about 2 million Ugandans live with disability.

Esther Nakamatte, a prosthetics client has been using a prosthetic leg since 2015 and says it has helped her overcome stigma and also made it easier to go about her daily duties.

“I thought I had reached the end in life when I lost my leg but this artificial limb has been very helpful and the orthopedic technician encouraged me a lot and told me I’d walk and be able to work again. This all sounded like a dream,” she said.

About 150 people have been using the prosthetics so far. Gabula is planning to open another workshop in western Uganda on the border with Congo to cater for victims of war in the neighbouring country.

Photo credit: Africa News
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